The EU is clamping down on chat apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook messenger, publishing draft law to ensure that online messaging services have privacy rules like those for texts and calls.
The move means apps such as Skype and other online messaging services will be forced to comply with rules aimed at safeguarding users’ privacy.
The European commission will publish a draft law on data privacy that aims to ensure instant message and internet-voice-call services face similar security and privacy rules to those governing SMS text messages, mobile calls and landline calls.
Jan Philipp Albrecht, a German Green MEP and prominent campaigner on data privacy, said: “It was obvious that there needs to be an adjustment to the reality of today. We see telecoms providers being replaced and those companies who seek to replace them need to be treated in the same way,” he said.
The policy paper, which is due in September, also outlines how these “over-the-top” services – where voice calls and messages are delivered via the internet – would have to comply with requests from security services, as well as regulating how they can make money from customer data.
The success or failure of OTT messaging services also has a strong bearing on national security issues worldwide.
SMS messaging is almost entirely unencrypted and easily readable by law enforcement, but other messaging services vary in terms of their vulnerability to government agencies. WhatsApp and iMessage, for instance, enable end-to-end encryption by default on all messages, ensuring that even Facebook and Apple cannot access their content.
By contrast, Facebook Messenger only encrypts messages end-to-end if the user actively opts in to a “private chat” mode. As such, law enforcement bodies with an appropriate court order can easily access most messages sent through the service.
India speeds ahead of US for internet audience
The number of web users in India will double to 730m by 2020 compared to 350m at the end of 2015, driven by rural take-up, according to new data.
The figures, from ‘The Future of Internet in India’ report by Nasscom and Akamai Technologies, means India’s Internet user base is second largest after China.
Globally, the number of internet users is expected to touch 4,170 million by 2020.
India will remain the fastest growing market in the world, and the growth will outstrip the US.
The report said that 75 per cent of new Internet users in India will come from rural areas. An overwhelming majority (75 per cent) of new users will consume data in local languages, it said.
“India’s Internet consumption has already exceeded the US to become number two globally…By 2020, the Internet is expected to penetrate deeper in hinterlands of the country, helping create more opportunities for everyone,” Nasscom President R Chandrashekhar said.